Responsibility #6: Establish a Marketing Plan

By Michael Colemere and Candianne Haacke

The Basic Functions of Product Marketing
One key element of a successful product launch is implementing a marketing plan. At its core, marketing is about inviting people to engage. Marketing addresses at least three key functions.

First, the product will become “top-of-mind.” That is, when the audience has a need, they immediately think of your product. It’s a common myth that “if you build it they will come.” Second, the product offering will be emotionally associated with the consumer’s core values. A product that rubs against the audience’s core values will likely create considerable tension and then fail. Third, the call-to-action is clear. Effective product managers make sure the audience is motivated to act and clearly understands what to do next.

In essence, these are the three basic functions of product marketing. Marketing activities occurs throughout the lifecycle (not just a launch).

A good marketing plan will help product managers answer key questions about their product, act as a reference document to help product managers execute their marketing strategy, and develop a structured approach to creating services and products that satisfy customer needs. A good marketing plan template will also set realistic and measurable objectives, include budgets and action plans, and allocate responsibilities.

Creating a Marketing Plan 
When writing a marketing plan product managers need to be clear about their marketing objectives and how they’re going to achieve them. Devin Shelley, recent general manager of communication and outreach for New York Presbyterian (one of the nations largest not-for-profit organizations) has developed a marketing plan template refined across industries including: A&E, Mars, Maybelline, Pfizer, Novartis and Volvo.

A marketing plan consists of the following 7 elements. It is recommended that product managers begin by spending 30–60 minutes documenting what they already know in preparation for deeper discussions with a marketing manager or marketing team.

1. Background Analysis
Give some background about the business. Detail the opportunities and challenges that the business has experienced. This helps product managers define the business’s capabilities and identify opportunities within the market. It will also play a key role in helping meet customer needs.

2. Marketing Objectives
Be specific. Marketing objectives may be financial, with a goal to increase sales, or marketing focused to build a brand, and increase awareness of a product.

The most effective way to define marketing objectives is to follow the ‘SMART’ acronym:
• Specific: clearly outlines objectives
• Measurable: indicate the measures of success
• Achievable: determine whether or not the objectives are attainable
• Realistic: identify what resources are needed
• Timely: define the time-frame for meeting objectives

3. Marketing Strategy and Mix
An effective strategy will help product managers to define the overall direction. It will also detail how to bring products and services to market in ways that will satisfy customers.

The elements that make up the marketing strategy are often referred to as the marketing mix. The mix will include the 7P’s of marketing — product (or service), pricing, position, promotion, people, process and physical environment.

4. Actions Plans and Budgets
Strategies and marketing goals are theoretical objectives. It’s the product managers’ action plans and budgets that will bring them to life. Action plans and budgets are key tools for implementation. To ensure success, plans and budgets should be detailed, definitive and reviewed regularly.

5. Organizational Implications
Organizational implications are often overlooked when product managers tackle a marketing plan. For example, if the goal is to increase the customer base by 15% (and therefore your staff by 10%), how will office space be affected? Or, will some tasks be outsourced? It’s important to consider and document potential organizational decisions in the marketing plan.

6. Evaluation and Monitoring Plan
To ensure ongoing improvement products should be tested and measured against marketing objectives. Formal methods of evaluation and monitoring will help product understand overall effectiveness and return on investment.

7. Summary
The marketing plan summary should summarize each of the key components — as a quick reference tool that product managers or business leaders can refer to at any time to keep track of goals.

Product Marketing Activities
Product marketing keeps offerings relevant, audiences engaged, and reach extending. Product marketing can be done in a number of ways using any combination of the following tools.

· Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
 o Microsoft Dynamics
 o Salesforce (including ExactTarget)

· User Research
 o Qualtrics
 o NVivo
 o LadderUX

· Statistical Analysis
 o SPS
 o R
 o Stata

· Biometrics
 o Tobii

· Information Architecture
 o Optimal Workshop Suite
 o Axure
 o Sketch

· Web Analytics
 o Adobe Analytics
 o Adobe Test & Target
 o Allegiance Feedback
 o ClickTale
 o Google Analytics
 o Loop11 
 o Observe Point
 o Optimal Workshop

· Social Analytics
 o Adobe Social
 o IMBE Social Media Analytics
 o TINTup

· Mobile Analytics
 o Localytics
 o Short Stack

· SEO Analytics
 o Advanced Web Ranking
 o Bing Webmaster Tools
 o BuzzSumo
 o Google Search Console
 o Majestic SEO
 o Scrapebox
 o Screaming Frog
 o SEOMoz Pro
 o SEMRush
 o SEOStats

Once product managers have documented what they know, they select a marketing manager or team to complete the plan and implement it 
throughout the product lifecycle.

Working in tandem, product managers will rely on marketers to implement the plan in addition to performing necessary exercises, such as SWOT analyses, segmentation, market readings, price forecasting, and so on. People make entire careers out of marketing, and it would simply be futile for product managers to solely take on the marketing function to themselves.

Additional Resources
Essential marketing resources for product managers include:

· Creating a Marketing Plan, by Harvard Business Review ($8.95)
· Marketing Essentials, by Harvard ManageMentor Online Module ($39.95)
· The Successful Marketing Plan ($25.50), by Roman G. Hiebing Jr.

Three effective marketing plan templates include:

· Complete Marketing Plan Template
· Cross-Channel Marketing Worksheet
· Marketing Strategy Template

Frequently Asked Question: Budgeting for Marketing
It is common for product managers to wonder how much budget to set aside for marketing. The allocation is dependent upon several factors: (a) the business sector, (b) the size of the organization, and (c) the product’s growth stage. For example, during the early brand building years retail organizations spend much more than other organizations on marketing — up to 20% of sales.

A for-profit marketing budget should account for: (a) brand development costs (which include all the channels used to promote the brand such as websites, blogs, sales collateral, etc.) and (b) the costs of promoting the organization (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.). These percentages also assume profit margins in the range of 10‐12%